Can Best Buy Survive?


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CS_ Can Best Buy Survive-300Best Buy has been around for decades. Known for having the latest and greatest technology for you to play with, or “try before you buy,” and its team experts in blue shirts, it is a brand that I would argue is a household name.

But the other names it gets called in many households these days are less than flattering, an indicative of it’s status as a company “on the decline” because of it’s inability to adjust to today’s market. They are still a household name, but so were Circuit City in the US and Comet in the UK. Those other two household names are usually proceeded with the phrase, “whatever happened to…?”

Unfortunately, Best Buy like many big brands has lost its way. Generally, the things that made them great are not that great anymore. Common complaints are that the sales staff is apathetic and unknowledgeable, that items are out-of-stock and that prices are too high when compared to online sites like

Best Buy says they are trying to get back to what made them great. Their president of U.S. retail, Shawn Score is in charge of the overhaul.  Starting as a clerk in their store 26 years ago, Score has worked his way to his present position. His top priority is to change the public opinion about Best Buy and to “end the shoppers hurt.”  He accused his organization of letting their “customer service muscle atrophy.” He is even reported to have a white binder on his desk that says, “Pain Points.”

I love that binder and this story. When I hear a huge corporation with a household name like Best Buy that acknowledges that this is important and even better, that they have let this area slide and see that it is to blame for their current predicament, I feel like a proud papa whose lecture has finally sunk in to his progeny.

At Beyond Philosophy we talk a lot about the sustainable business differentiators. With so many channels and the commoditization of most products and services across the globe brought together by the web, it becomes more and more apparent that finding a way to stand out is the only way to survive. Focusing on the customer experience is the best and most sustainable way to stand out.

Most businesses fall into one of four distinct orientations on their journey to delivering a great Customer Experience.  At Beyond Philosophy we call this The Journey from Naïve to Natural. The four orientations include; Naïve, Transactional, Enlightened, and Natural. We cover this model on our Customer Experience Management live webinar training certification.

Based on what I am reading from Score, I would put Best Buy at the transactional phase currently, but with designs on moving to the Enlightened phase. The enlightened phase is what we call an organization that has recognized a need for a holistic, coordinated, and deliberate approach to the customer experience.

From my Second book, Revolutionize Your Customer Experience:

“The Enlightened oriented organization understands the importance of the Customer Experience and has thus achieved enlightenment. It has converted from being reactive to proactive to customer demands. It has understood the critical nature of defining the Customer Experience it is trying to deliver.”

I see in these words from Score a move toward enlightenment for Best Buy. But its actions will show me whether they are actually there.

But in a recent move to buy back the first-generation Surface Tablets for $350 just before the launch of the second generation, they are taking action to addressing another concern of consumers as well: the pace of change in electronics Best Buy Executives talk about how technology is overwhelming to most consumers, developing and changing faster than they can adapt. This promotion gave consumers a store credit that they can apply to the purchase of a new second-generation tablet or anything else in the store.

In a way, it’s like they are buying back the consumers trust that Best Buy is knowledgeable, helpful, and on their side in their quest to have the latest and greatest of technology affordably. I feel this is especially consumer-focused as Microsoft still hasn’t committed to a buy-back program for Surface users.

I will watch with interest to see if Best Buy can turn around it’s poor performance of late and build its brand again. If Best Buy can find a way to turn it around and fight it’s way back to the top of the electronics retail heap, it will serve as inspiration to other failing brands, like Wal-Mart and JC Penney, to name a couple.

So just like a Dad on the sidelines at his kid’s soccer match, I will root for Best Buy to make the goal. I believe if they are committed to the concept of customer focus and recreating an excellent customer experience, they might have a chance.

But it leads me to wonder what you think. So I ask you, “What would you do if you were Best Buy?”

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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